Last week, letters were sent to Mayors across Canada from Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi issuing the challenge: to have a local poet read a poem at the start of a Council meeting in March or April. The aim is to raise awareness and to celebrate poetry, writing, small presses and the contribution of poets and all writers to the rich cultural life in our country.
Taking the torch from Regina Mayor Michael Fougere, last year Mayor Nenshi challenged mayors across Canada to participate in the annual Mayor’s Poetry City Challenge. With over seventy participating communities, the 2015 challenge was the largest yet.
“The creative industries in Canada are an important part of what makes our country a great place to live,” said Mayor Nenshi. “I’m looking forward to once again challenging other Canadian cities to use their Council Chambers as a platform to encourage, uplift and promote the art of poetry.”
The challenge recognizes both UNESCO’s World Poetry Day on Mar. 21 as well as National Poetry Month, which is celebrated in Canada and the United States during the month of April.
Initiated by Regina Mayor Pat Fiacco in 2012, the Mayor’s Poetry City Challenge has been taken up in communities large and small across the country, from Whitehorse and Dawson City to Victoria and St. John’s.
The Mayor’s Poetry City Challenge is a collaboration between the League of Canadian Poets, the Writers’ Guild of Alberta and The City of Calgary.
derek beaulieu, Calgary Poet Laureate, 2014 – 2016
A longtime resident of Calgary, beaulieu is the author of eight books of poetry, three volumes of fiction and one volume of literary criticism. For 17 years he has been developing poetic communities; he has mentored and promoted young and established writers as publisher/editor of housepress, No Press, and as a former editor of Calgarian magazines filling Station, dANDelion and Speechless. beaulieu has taught students from grade school to the post-graduate level and has won awards for his current teaching at the Alberta College of Art + Design. In 2013 Wilfrid Laurier University Press published Please, no more poetry, please: the poetry of derek beaulieu. He has performed and discussed poetry in Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Ireland, the UK and across North America. beaulieu’s poetry is internationally renowned as challenging, generative and dedicated to conversation.